Flu FAQ's

Flu season is upon us and we are answering some of the commonly asked questions about the flu shot.

Who should get a flu shot?

Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exceptions. Flu vaccination has important benefits: It can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths. Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.

Where can I get the flu shot?

In Thunder Bay, students, staff and faculty can get a flu shot at Student Health and Wellness. Call 807-343-8361 to book an appointment. 

In Orillia, anyone can get the flu shot at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit at the Common Roof located at 169 Front St S. Appointments are necessary. Call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 to book. 

In Ontario, people with provincial health cards are able to get the vaccines from pharmacies, family doctors and public health clinics. 

International students or people without health cards 

  • In Thunder Bay

    • Flu shots will be available from Thunder Bay District Health Unit, Superior EMS or Shoppers Drug Marts. 

  • In Orillia

    • The Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit will be offering clinics. These are set to begin in November. Appointments are necessary. Call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 to book. 

    • The Bell Farm Road clinic will provide vaccinations but will be by appointment only. CALL TELE-CLINIC 705-722-1199.

I’ve never gotten a flu shot before, why should I get it this year?

The flu can take its toll on our health-care system in any given year, but with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there is a risk that hospitals and health-care facilities could become overwhelmed if they need to treat both flu and COVID-19 patients. Getting a flu shot could also help reduce "unnecessary testing" for COVID-19 because several symptoms of both illnesses are similar. So it's vital that people do what they can to reduce their chances of getting it.

The last time I got a flu shot, I got sick. 

Flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness. Flu shots are made with either inactivated (killed) viruses, or with only a single protein from the flu virus. There are several reasons why someone might get flu symptoms, even after they have been vaccinated against the flu.

  • Some people can become ill from other respiratory viruses besides flu such as rhinoviruses, which are associated with the common cold, cause symptoms similar to flu, and also spread and cause illness during the flu season. The flu vaccine only protects against the flu, not other illnesses.

  • While you do start to develop antibodies right away, it takes the body two weeks after the flu shot to develop full immune protection. It is possible that a person might have been exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during that two week period and that this exposure might have resulted in developing the flu before protection takes effect. That’s why it is important to get your flu shot early on. 

  • Some people may experience flu symptoms despite getting vaccinated is that they may have been exposed to a flu virus that is very different from the viruses the vaccine is designed to protect against. The ability of a flu vaccine to protect a person depends largely on the similarity or “match” between the viruses selected to make the vaccine and those spreading and causing illness. There are many different flu viruses that spread and cause illness among people

  • The final explanation for experiencing flu symptoms after vaccination is that flu vaccines vary in how well they work and some people who get vaccinated still get sick. When that happens though, vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce the severity of illness in those people who get vaccinated but still get sick.

How else can I prevent the spread of the flu?

In addition to getting the flu shot, people can adopt some simple practices (that might sound very familiar) to keep yourself and others healthy:

  • Covering coughs and sneezes

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

  • Wash your hands often

  • Stay home if you are feeling unwell

  • Practice other healthy habits

    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

    • Get plenty of sleep.

    • Eat well, with lots of vegetables and fruits.

    • Drink lots of fluids.

    • Exercise regularly.

    • Manage your stress.

Sources

 https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/misconceptions.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccinations.htm

https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/flu-vaccine-covid-19-twindemic-what-you-need-to-know-1.5709559

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/actions-prevent-flu.htm

 

Having Sex and Starting Relationships during a Pandemic

Sex is an important part of many people's lives and it's not something that's just going to stop when there's a pandemic, nor should it as long as you are able to engage in sexual activity in low-risk ways. Here are some tips on how to enjoy safer sex while reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19. 

Know how COVID-19 spreads. The virus spreads through particles in the saliva, mucus or breath of people with COVID-19, even from people who do not have symptoms. We still have a lot to learn about COVID-19 and sex. The virus has been found in the semen and feces of people who have tested positive for COVID-19. It is not entirely clear if COVID-19 can be spread through vaginal or anal sex but there is evidence that other coronaviruses do not easily spread through sex. 

That being said- if you are having sex with someone, it is likely that you will be within six feet of each other and you will probably be kissing at the same time, and the virus is passed through saliva. Essentially, any possibility of transfer of coronavirus - from your mouth to your hands, to genitals, to someone else's nose or mouth - increases the risk of passing on coronavirus 

You are your safest sex partner! Take advantage of the chance to get (re)acquainted with your body and have some fun. Remember to wash your hands & any toys with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 

The next safest partner is a consenting partner in your bubble. In Ontario, you can establish a social bubble of no more than 10 people who can interact with one another without physical distancing. Keep in mind that you can’t have multiple bubbles, so if you add someone outside your household, you have to include anyone in their household as well. 

If you are meeting someone new- there are a lot of ways to start and develop a relationship with technology. Try watching the same movie or cooking the same meal and eating together over facetime. Send voice notes instead of texts so you can hear each other. You can also take the next steps in your relationship virtually by sexting, or phone or online sex. If you do decide to meet up IRL, any first dates should be two metres apart. Whether it takes place indoors or outdoors will be up to the people on the date and their comfort levels.

Do your own screening to protect yourself by asking potential partners about symptoms of infection or potential exposures. Approach this conversation the same way you would talk about sexually transmitted diseases before being intimate with someone for the first time: It's a matter-of-fact conversation about your health and that of your potential partners. Before getting physical with a partner, ask them:

  • If they have, or have recently had, symptoms of COVID-19 infection or are at high risk of being exposed to the virus or being a carrier. 

  • Do they have any cold or flu symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath)? Have they travelled anywhere in the past 14 days?

  • Have they been exposed or in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 or had symptoms?

  • Do they work in a profession that exposes them to individuals who may have COVID-19 (eg: healthcare workers)?

This isn’t a one-time conversation, it is important to continue to ask these questions each time you plan on getting up close and physical with someone else.

Skip sex if you or your partner are not feeling well, or have been in contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19. If you feel unwell, or even start to feel unwell, avoid kissing, sex or any close contact with others. Follow public health recommendations for isolation & quarantine and contact the appropriate health care provider for the next steps. 

Here are some other ways to lower the chances of being exposed to COVID-19 during sex with others:

  • Consider keeping contact information for your partner(s) so that you can reach them if one of you develops symptoms.

  • Limit alcohol use and other substances so safer decisions can be made.

  • Before and after sex:

    • Wash your body with soap and water.

    • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

    • Wash sex toys thoroughly per the manufacturer’s instructions. Most, but not all, can be cleaned with mild unscented soap and water. Do not share them with multiple partners.

  • Wear a face covering or mask. Heavy breathing during sex can create more droplets that may transmit COVID-19.

  • Avoid or limit kissing and saliva exchange.

  • Be creative with sexual positions and physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face to face contact. 

  • Using condoms, lubricants, and dental dams may help to further reduce the chances by minimizing contact with saliva, semen, feces, blood and/or internal genitalia/vaginal fluids during sex.

Don’t forget COVID-19 is not the only infectious agent to think about, continue to use condoms to prevent transmission of sexually-transmitted infections and an effective method of birth control to prevent an unplanned pregnancy

Although relationships and sex do present a risk during a pandemic, emotional and physical connections can be essential to your overall wellbeing. Assess the risks of dating or having sex the same way you have assessed the risks of going to the grocery store. We should not downplay the importance of human connection because relationships are what help us stay mentally sane through these strange and challenging times.

 

Lindsey Wachter, R.Kin

Health and Wellness Promoter

 

Getting Connected

An individual’s wellbeing and sense of belonging are closely related. Without this feeling of belonging, individuals can feel isolated or lonely, which affects overall wellbeing. Making a connection with others can be especially hard when you are learning remotely.

Make use of your student union.

LUSU's centres provide a supportive and engaging community for students from all kinds of backgrounds. Find like-minded folks who share your experiences and work together to make the world a better place.

  • Aboriginal Awareness Centre

  • Gender Equity Centre

  • Sustainability Initiative

  • Food Bank

  • Pride Central

  • Multicultural Centre

Joining a student club is another opportunity to find others who have similar interests and pursuits as you. You’d be surprised how many clubs LUSU offers and if you don’t find one that piques your interests- you can create your own! 

Learn more about LUSU centres and clubs at LUSU Fest 2020 running this week!

Virtual Study Groups

  • Study groups were always a great way to practice and apply concepts you’re learning in class and to build communication and collaboration skills that are important in the workplace and they might even be more helpful when learning remotely. They create structure and routine for studying, keep you connected with other people, and provide opportunities to get questions answered—and help other students answer questions—outside of office hours.

  • First, you’ll need to find people. There are a number of ways to identify people interested in joining a study group:  

    • Ask your instructor if they’d be willing to post an announcement or start a discussion board thread to collect the names of students interested in joining a study group.  

    • Use discussion board, zoom chat, or other collaborative tools available in your course to find other students interested in forming a study group. 

  • There are many ways to meet with your study group. The best approach is likely to choose a format that all group members are familiar with (Zoom and Google Meet are easily accessed using your Lakehead email account). 

  • Check out this article for more tips on organized a virtual study group. 

Campus Rec at home

  • Campus Rec might not be able to provide their traditional intramurals but you can still compete against fellow Thunderwolves via their online intramurals. You can also join their live and on-demand fitness classes, and Strava activity groups to keep active and motivated.

Explore your new community

Not every connection you make needs to be with someone at Lakehead, getting more comfortable in your city also bolsters your social well-being. Use Facebook or Reddit to find groups with similar interests in your area. If you are living on or near campus, check out the WellU Maps to find out more about what available in the area. 

 

-Lindsey Wachter, R. Kin

Health and Wellness Promoter

laptop with zoom open

Discussing COVID Boundaries

Socializing during the pandemic is complicated- everyone has their own comfort levels with what they are willing to do. It can be difficult if you are not on the same page as friends and family (more so if you live together). The more you can communicate what you expect and what you are comfortable with, the more you will actually get what you want.

When discussing comfort levels with friends and housemates, it can be hard to know what to ask. Below are some questions you can bring up during those conversations.

For Housemates:

  • How are you feeling today?
  • Is it okay if my friend comes over?
  • How many people are you comfortable having over?
  • What should our cleaning routine look like?
  • What is your class schedule?

Going to a Friend's House

  • Should I bring a mask?
  • How many people will be there?
  • Should I bring my own food/drinks?
  • Will we be sitting outside or inside?
  • Who do you live with?

When you invite someone over

  • Do you mind if we stay outside?
  • Can you bring your own _______ (food, drinks, mask)?
  • _________ is going to be here too. Are you comfortable being around other people and wearing a mask?
  • Please wash your hands once you come in. 

Ultimately you cannot control others’ behaviour and you might not be able to agree, you can respect each other's boundaries and be creative with how you can socialize. 

How to Have COVID Conversations

The Balancing Act of Being a Student and a Parent in a Pandemic

Balancing school and parenting is challenging at the best of times, but back to school season during a pandemic is a whole other level of stress. It’s normal to be anxious or feel stressed about how this year will go and while there may not be a perfect solution to excel as a student-parent in the current climate, here are some tips to help:

Set a schedule. Establishing some routines will help you and your children feel more settled. This could include early morning writing time, working during nap times, or studying after children have gone to bed. If your children are older, maybe everyone can have a regular quiet time for studying, reading, listening to music, watching a movie, etc. Consider taking some time on the weekend to plan activities or crafts for small kids that will keep them busy for 30 minutes at a time during the week.

Connect with other students with families. It can be hard for classmates without children to understand the struggles you are having. Reach out to others in your courses or program who are juggling similar priorities right now. They might be able to share the challenges and successes they have had.

Make a study space for yourself where you can leave all your work or school materials. Pinterest has many suggestions on how to create a home office in unconventional spaces. Studying and attending remote lectures will be easier if you don’t have to pack and unpack your computer and books every time.

If you are parenting with a partner, plan how you will share responsibilities so that you have time to dedicate to your schoolwork. If your children are older, discuss how they can help around the house too. Kids may be more committed to a plan that they help make. The plan will look different for every family, but having those conversations sooner than later can be helpful.

If parenting alone, communication is still important. If your kids are old enough, talk to them about how they can help you by giving you some quiet time when you need it. Reassure them that you will spend time with them after you complete your work. For younger kids, squeeze in your own school work during naps or find age-appropriate activities that allow you to work for short periods of time. Be patient- you might not find the right tactic right away and it might take a while to figure out what works best for you and your kids.

Do your best to create and assert healthy boundaries. While this may not always be possible with children who are younger or have complex needs, do what you can to create boundaries where you can. Explore creative solutions to help carve out time for yourself- not just for school work but also to exercise, get outside or to do something you enjoy, remember that self-care isn’t selfish.

Don’t forget this is stressful for your children too. Going back to school is a big change for them as well but there are a lot of resources available to help them deal with the transition:

Give Yourself a Break. Even if you follow all these tips, there will probably be some days where you feel burnt out and overwhelmed. While you may try your best to not take your frustrations out on your children, there may be times where you lose your temper or raise your voice. Although you may be using the weekend to study or get work done, don’t forget to also plan some family time to enjoy each other’s company. At the end of the day, remember: you love each other and you’re all on the same team.

Know that you are not alone. There are many students, staff and faculty who are experiencing the same challenges. If you are feeling distressed or overwhelmed, remember that you have support available to you.

 

-Lindsey Wacher, R.Kin, MSc, Health and Wellness Promoter

Thunderwolves Power Smoothie

smoothie recipe

 

 

person holding smoothie

Announcing the WellU Podcast

We’re happy to announce the launch of a new podcast created in partnership with Compass North! 

Each episode of WellU Podcast will give an in-depth look at a health and wellness topic relevant to Lakehead Students by a Compass North Student member. 

The first episode addresses "Virtual Burnout"- something we have probably all experienced in the past few months with more and more of our lives happening online. 3rd-year medical student Felicia Lotsios breaks down what virtual burnout is and what you can do to help deal with it. Check it out on Spotify- https://cutt.ly/wellupod

 

 

Introducing the wellU podcast in partnership with compass North

Back to School Stress Tips from Bounceback

Stressed out about school? Here are some small things you can do straight away to help you better tackle the challenges of student life. 

  • Stuck on a problem? Come back to it later. Or break the problem down into smaller chunks. It’s easier to tackle one small piece at a time.
  • Take a short break. Then come back refreshed or with a different perspective.
    • Grab a healthy snack (fruits, veggies, handful of nuts) and drink lots of water!
    • Get up and give your body a stretch, or go for a brisk walk to get some fresh air and clear your mind.
    • Do something fun or that you enjoy. Dance and sing along to your favourite song. Listen to a favourite podcast. Take a relaxing bath or shower. Call your best friend for a chat or to blow off some steam.
    • Breathe. Close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths. Drop your shoulders and relax your arms and legs.
  • Ask for help. Got a friend who’s really good in a particular subject? Take advantage of their expertise.
  • Get as much rest as possible. Don’t drink too much alcohol or caffeine before bed. If a particular problem is preventing you from getting to sleep, write it down and deal with it in the morning.
  • Be kind and patient to yourself. Reward yourself for your successes and for all your hard work. Don’t let the small hurdles prevent you from reaching your long-term goals. Figure out a plan for the next time. 

For more practical tips on sleeping better, increasing activity, problem solving, and more, check out our BounceBack videos at: bouncebackvideo.ca (using access code: bbtodayon)

 

 

 

 

 

The LU Jack.org chapter launches virtual mental health summit

The LU Jack.org chapter is organizing a local, virtual mental health summit from September 22nd to September 25th. There will be a plethora of workshops, talks and panels that will be occurring sporadically throughout the days. Topics for these range from a music therapy session,a resource panel, a talk on stigma, and a sit-down discussion with a Thunder Bay city council member. Finally, the summit will be taking place over Zoom. More detailed information will be posted on the Lakehead U Mental Health Peer Support Instagram page.
 
LUMHPS Mental Health Summit. 22- Music therapy, 23- sit down with a decision maker, 24- mental health resource panel, 25- Collaboration session

Black Mental Health Supports

This resource was originally curated by the Girls’ Night In team in June 2020. It is intended to help members of the Black community find resources for mental health support, including those experiencing violence-based trauma.

It’s important to note that this list was created is a non-exhaustive list and was created in the US, students might be out of the jurisdiction of some licensed/regulated supports. Student Health and Wellness is working to add Canadian resources and will continue to update the list. This is simply a place to start, if you have anything you would like to add to the list, please email activities.shcc@lakeheadu.ca

Therapy Resources

Organizations helping Black people find mental health support through therapy. Some organizations are also accepting donations if you wish to support financially.  

  • Join the BFT Initiative to provide free therapy for those in need. From the organization: The funds will be used for individuals dealing with any emotions (stress, anxiety, worry, depression, anger, hurt, grief, etc.) that they want to discuss. With the funding, we will connect those in need with a black female therapist for free therapy services. This support is greatly needed in our society with all that has been occurring in 2020. Help us give those in need a safe space to talk.
  • Free therapist-moderated support groups for the Black community - by Monument - the first is taking place on June 9th at 6:30pm ET. More info here.
  • @therapyforblackgirls: Mental Health Resources for Black Womxn
    • The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast is a weekly chat about all things mental health, personal development, and all the small decisions we can make to become the best possible versions of ourselves.
  • Real x Unplug Collective: Free Group Therapy for Young Black Womxn + Gender-Expansive People
    • From their Instagram: "These therapy sessions are specifically tailored for Black women and Black gender-expansive people. It’s not only that this space is centered around us, it’s FOR us." Follow them for more information.
    • Sign up for a session on their website once or on an ongoing weekly basis.
  • And check out Real: a company based in New York, offering free online group therapy sessions to anybody in the US. They have weekly sessions for black womxn, young black womxn, people of color, and allies
  • The Loveland Foundation Therapy Fund
  • Naseeha provides a confidential helpline, providing immediate, anonymous, and confidential support over the phone from 12 – 9 pm, 7 days a week
  • The Black Youth Helpline is a Canadian not-for-profit organization that was established in 1992 to specifically respond to the needs of Black youth nationwide.

Self-Care and Coping

Resources to aid coping and self-care

  • They also shared a Community Healing Doc with mental health resources, self-care, accounts to follow, and virtual events to support Black mental health
  • To donate: “If you would like to donate to BGWG on behalf of all this bull we already got to deal with cashapp $jjjeffer PayPal: services@blackgirlwithgardens.com it’s needed”
  • Alex Elle’s most recent writing practice freebies to help guide reflection
  • NAMI’s full list on African American Mental Health Resources
  • “The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health” by Rheeda Walker, PhD — a recommendation from @mahoganybooks, a Black-owned bookstore in Washington, D.C. “My people, we need to take moments to breathe because we are not all ok. Allies: this book is for you too.”

Meditation Resources, Workshops, and Classes

Sessions tailored to Black mental health struggles and collective trauma

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